Last night Paul and I went to check out this movie. We decided to go to the 10:00 evening showing assuming that there would be fewer children there. We were correct except for one couple who brought a toddler and a young baby. Good lord people - get a babysitter!
We enjoyed the movie (except for the rather annoying couple and spawn) - Paul declared it to be the best of the series to date and I agree with him.
As is the case of all films in a series, there is to be an assumption of knowledge on the part of the audience regarding what's gone on before so. The problem with that, however, is that it may have been a while since you've either read the book or seen the last film. Happily I had reread the books last month (preparing for book # 7 to be released) and Paul and I had watched the last film yesterday afternoon.
The screenwriter, Michael Goldenberg, did a good job of paring the book, which is 734 pages, down to a manageable running time on the screen and tightening up the narrative. This is the first in the film series where JK Rowling allowed parts of the book to be changed in the transition from book to film. Some may scream about that but I think it made for a more rich and smooth story. So all in all, I think the translation from book to screenplay went well.
I continue to be impressed with the ability of both the story and the actors to maintain a strong sense of continuity from installment to installment. Harry Potter has grown, in more ways than one, into the role life has handed him yet he still has that sense of innocence, wonder, and self-doubt that infused him in the first film. He has been tested and beaten down, but he still strives on when others, especially teens, would have said something along the lines of "I'm outta here!" to the place the world has put him.
The rest of the company is also aging well. Rupert Grint as Ron and Emma Watson as Hermione aren't nearly half as annoying as they were in the first two, and Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman are worth the price of admission alone.
Voldemort’s busy assembling an army of darkness, but this fantasy universe’s current administration seems hell-bent on scapegoating and burying its collective head in the sand by appointing Imelda Staunton’s relentlessly prim and proper Dolores Umbridge to usher in a repressive, almost Orwellian regime of mindless conformity and authoritarianism at Hogwarts. A pink-clad fascist fond of cats and corporal punishment, Staunton’s twee totalitarian is the most original movie villain in ages.
Leave it to Potter to kick-start an underground pubescent insurgency, inspired by his sly, kindly godfather Sirius Black (the fantastic Gary Oldman), whose own Order of the Phoenix operates under the cover of night in secret locations, prepping to take down that dastardly Voldemort, should he ever show his semi-formed face again.
Like most 15-year-old boys, Harry Potter is an extremely angry young man, trying to wrap his still-forming mind around the fallibility of authority figures, the finality of death, and the all-around shit-stinking unfairness of the way the world really works. Fortunately, Harry's friends won't leave him alone -- even when he's surly toward them -- and he receives a much-needed support system from best buds Ron Weasley (Grint) and Hermione Granger (Watson) as well as a seemingly spacey blonde named Luna Lovegood (newcomer Evanna Lynch, wonderfully embodying the most interesting of the new characters).
In this manner, the film echoes The Empire Strikes Back: The mood is grim, the heroes are reeling, and the villains are on the move. But with a little help from their friends, not to mention a strong belief in the "force" of good, these kids may yet save the day.